Lot 215
  • 215

Paul Outerbridge, Jr.

20,000 - 30,000 USD
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  • Paul Outerbridge, Jr.
  • political thinking
color carbro print, mounted, overmatted, signed and dated by the photographer in pencil on the overmat, matted, framed, 1938


Possibly this print:

Graham Howe and G. Ray Hawkins, eds., Paul Outerbridge Jr.: Photographs (New York, 1980), p. 124

Elaine Dines and Graham Howe, Paul Outerbridge: A Singular Aesthetic, Photographs and Drawings 1921-1941 (Laguna Beach Museum of Art, 1981), pl. 93

Manfred Heiting, ed., Paul Outerbridge (Köln, 1999), p. 194


This image is actually larger than the opening of the photographer's original heavy buff-colored board overmat, which indicates his intended cropping. The condition of the area of this color carbro print intended by the photographer for display is generally very good. The color saturation appears to be equal in the exposed area as it is under the overmat. On the print itself, there are typical pinpoint areas of color--cyan, magenta, and yellow--that randomly appear scattered on the surface. The print is mounted to heavy gray board, and the overmat was originally glued down with adhesive to the photograph and its mount. The overmat has been removed from the mount, and there are numerous adhesive and paper ply remains on the mount and on the print where the overmat was originally affixed. A notation, 'Bottom 11 3/8 + 13 - 4 1/8 - 16 x 22' has been written in pencil in the right margin and on the mount at the right side. The thick, heavy buff-colored overmat is no longer attached. Its edges are somewhat rubbed and its corners are bumped. There is age-darkening at the periphery and very light soiling on the front. The back of the overmat has adhesive remains, abrasions, and numerical notations in an unidentified hand in pencil. The reverse of the mount, which has brown paper affixed to the center, is soiled, rubbed at the edges, has brown paper tape remains at the right edge, and exhibits damp-staining at the lower edge. There is a metal hanging fixture affixed, and '713' has been stamped at the top, left, and lower edges.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

Paul Outerbridge began his experiments with color photography in 1930.  He soon discovered that the difficult color carbro process was the only one that met his exacting standards for print quality.  With typical single-mindedness and enthusiasm, Outerbridge worked with the medium until he had mastered it completely.  His vibrant color photographs were admired by his contemporaries, and Outerbridge was pursued by companies for color advertising images of their products.  Outerbridge was unique in his time for applying color photography to his own creative work, and he made a number of still life studies that demonstrated his well-honed talents as studio photographer and exploited the possibilities of the color carbro process.  In the enigmatically-titled Political Thinking, Outerbridge creates an intricate and nearly abstract composition from a number of glass objects and the prismatic effects of light passing through them. 

By 1940, Outerbridge had become an authority on color processes, and in that year he published Photographing in Color (Random House).  In this book, his gives detailed information on the exacting color carbro technique, proclaiming, 'In the opinion of the majority of color workers, Carbro is by far the finest of all the color print processes.'  Outerbridge goes on to issue the following warnings to the novice:

'Carbro is a process that necessitates precise timing of all operations, and temperature and humidity control.  It is subject to quite a few variables, depending upon the chemical content of the water available, climate, weather, storage, age of materials, and many other things.  If you are willing to spend the amount of money required and apply plenty of concentrated, intelligent effort, you can learn to make good Carbro prints and even arrive at fairly consistent results, but don't think it will be easy' (quoted in Paul Outerbridge, 1896 - 1958, Taschen, p. 25).